Secrets — Only 9 out of 100 law firms sampled across the globe mentioned “trade secrets” as an area of expertise, a practice area, or a service offering on their websites, according to Hazel’s survey of IP firm websites. What a missed opportunity!

Eight of these IP Firms are based in the USA while the ninth one is based in Canada. All nine IP Firms who list trade secrets on their websites are large firms rather than boutique IP Firms.

law firm trade secretsBackground

Hazel conducted a relatively simple exercise during May 2016. It was prompted by the recent passage of the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) by the US Government as well as the harmonization of trade secret legislation here in the EU.

The exercise involved a sample size of just 100 IP Firms. The IP Firm were randomly selected but the search was limited to those IP Firms where I personally have at least one connection via LinkedIn. I fully accept that this may have biased my sampling somewhat but I doubt it given the size and diversity of my LinkedIn network, especially with regards to IP Firms.

The IP Firms sampled included Firms based in the Americas, Asia, Australia, Europe and the Middle East. The sample also includes a good mix of large as well as boutique IP Firms.

The Websites of These IP Firms

The exercise involved a search for a particular piece of information on the public websites of these 100 IP Firms. Nearly all of the 100 IP Firms sampled had public websites, and these websites typically looked successful and engaging, having well-structured pages and clear navigation tabs.

All of the websites examined generally provide plenty of information to the visitor such as:

  • Details about the IP Firm
  • Bios of the personnel, with specific focus on the legal and technical skills and competencies of the people
  • News updates about interesting developments in the world of IP
  • List of their service offerings

For the sake of completeness, I should mention that I failed to find a website for three of the IP Firms sampled. These three firms are all located in more developing parts of the world.

law firm trade secretThe Expertise, Practice Areas or Services of These IP Firms

All of the websites found had a tab or link labelled “Services” or “Practice Areas” or “Expertise” on their home page.

This was the primary focus of the exercise as we were looking to see how many of these IP Firms mentioned “‘trade secrets” as part of their service offering.

Two Possible Explanations

What should we make of these findings? There are two possible explanations:

  • Over 90% of IP Firms are all keeping it as a trade secret (excuse my dry sense of humor)
  • Over 90% of IP Firms do not in fact offer any services in the area of trade secrets or trade secret management to their clients

A Huge Opportunity Awaits the Legal Community

What an opportunity for some creative and innovative IP Firms to grasp!

Trade secrets are an important, but an invisible component of a company’s intellectual property portfolio of assets. They can add tremendous business value, so they need to be properly and professionally managed, and looked after.

Trade secrets should be on the agenda of any in-house intellectual property function as well as on the agenda of any Legal or IP Firm advising organizations. Trade secret legislation is clearly strengthening in key jurisdictions, interestingly at a time when other forms of IP seem to be weakening at least in some locations.

Hazel Helps Companies Identify Rank & Protect Their Trade Secrets

The Hazel Trade Secret Asset Management System may help your company or law firm manage trade secrets and trade secret processes. Hazel can keep track of corporate trade secrets and help you determine an appropriate level of protection for each trade secret recorded. Hazel can record who in an organization is responsible for a given trade secret, who is responsible for protecting the trade secret, and who has access to the trade secret, among other things. Contact the Hazel Team today to learn more.

For Secrets, I’m Donal O’Connell.


Icarus, by Rogério TimóteoOwn work, CC BY 3.0, Link

Barrister by “STUFF” Henry Charles Seppings-Wright – Vanity Fair, 7 February 1891Digitised version from :, Public Domain, Link

Barrister by “ATn” (Alfred Thompson) – Vanity Fair, 5 March 1870This version downloaded from, Public Domain, Link

Thomas Ewing is a commercial lawyer, registered patent attorney, and intellectual property counselor with more than 25 years of experience in the IP field.  In his consulting practice, Tom routinely advises international organizations, government agencies, universities, law firms, multinational corporations and financial institutions. Tom has been recognized as one of the world’s 250 best IP strategists by IAM Magazine in every edition of its IAM 250 since the list’s inception in 2009.